Remodeling & Home Repair Estimates: Honesty or Sales Tool?

shopping for clothes or getting remodeling or home repair estimatesRemodeling and home repair estimates are a lot like price tags on clothes in the store. For those who only want to buy things on sale, you’re going to pick the lowest price. With clothing, you tend to forget about the seam that splits open on the first washing or turtleneck sweaters where the elasticity doesn’t last through one season … or like me, you might figure out the problem and change where you shop for clothing.

So let me share some real stories (I could write a book) from my experience and peers still running handyman and remodeling businesses, plus my days working in corporate America. That’s the value of reading articles at Home Tips for Women, our stories come from real live experiences between homeowners and home professionals, a bit like reality TV because we don’t have time to write, and you don’t have time to read … the whole story.

 The truth is whether you’re buying clothes, home repairs or a kitchen remodel, you get what you pay for!

These are all true stories offering insight into both sides of the story, the homeowner and the home professional. Good communication is key to successful projects and what few homeowners realize, is communication goes both ways so please take time to ask questions, to listen and look at the big picture. When you consider yourself part of “the team” and show respect for your home professionals, they will work even harder to make you happy!

Material Markup for Remodeling & Home Repair Projects

A customer in Durham NH called to complain that my handyman technician had overcharged him for materials. He told me  he’d called Home Depot and the prices he’d gotten were less than half, yet I’d personally purchased the materials at Ricci Lumber in Portsmouth NH. I reviewed the material costs for the entire home repair job, and put together a detailed analysis showing Home Depot prices for what they sold. I explained Home Depot didn’t carry the trim boards needed for his contemporary house, as they only carry the most popular sizes.

Homeowner Tip – ask your remodeling and home repair contractors how much they mark materials up. Recognize that you’re paying for their expertise in knowing which materials to buy and where to get them, i.e. my technician picked up the materials on his way to the job to save time.

Buying Materials for Remodeling & Home Repair Projects

screens are an easy home repair project, except for finding the right screen fabricOne large job my handyman business handled was won because we let the homeowner buy their new kitchen cabinets directly from, allowing them to save the mark-up other remodelers wanted to add to the bill. For many of my handyman jobs, we’d rather have the customer buy the materials because it can involve trips to several stores which takes time, and time is money. A good example is screening fabric as there are different colors, fabrics (see how many different screen fabrics are sold at and even different hole sizes. 

Homeowner Tip – ask your contractors if they can save money by buying the materials for the job, and see if they have recommendations on where to start your search. Make sure you understand when you need to have the materials available as a delay in tile for your new bathroom floor, can through the schedule off and cost you money.

Remodeling & Home Repairs Depend on Quality Materials 

remodeling & home repair jobs find buying products challengingBecause you don’t buy lots of building supplies, you don’t learn what your remodeling and home repair contractors know. A homeowner in Windham NH must have thought we were incompetent when ordering their large pantry 4 times – my husband and I installed the 4th one and had to buy a special drill bit, for the notches the factory forgot to drill? Fiberglass bathtubs and showers are more prone to damage so we only buy them through plumbing distributors who have better quality control on shipping (same manufacturer as the box stores).

Homeowner Tip – Always, and I do mean always, inspect large items at the store before carting them home, to save  time unpacking, repacking and returning the items. Examples were this worked – unpacked 4 bathroom mirrors to find 2 good ones; unpacked 3 furniture style bathroom vanities and picked the best one as they all had blemishes.

Product Brands Don’t Guarantee Quality

buying the right products for remodeling & home repair projects is trickyYou might think, and you would be wrong, product brands guarantee a certain level of quality. There was a time where this was easy to explain, that Kohler toilets bought at a plumbing supply house came from Kohler Wisconsin, and what looked like the same Kohler toilet at a box store, was manufactured in China. That’s no longer true so now you need to open the toilet up and inspect the parts – are they made from plastic or metal and which do you think will last longer?

 Homeowner Tip – When buying products for a remodeling project or home repair, I recommend that any product with moving parts be purchased from a building supply company, to get higher quality. Examples include toilets, ceiling fans, door bells … you get the idea. My preference is also to buy higher quality lumber at a building supply house to save time not having to inspect each piece for warping and knots, as a popular remodeling project is building a deck and that takes a lot of wood.

Photo credit for laundry pantry photo goes to

How can we help you with your next remodeling or home repair project?
We’ll continue this article with more tips on being a savvy homeowner!

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